Friday, April 23, 2010

LCMS Commission on Worship Report in the 2010 Convention Workbook

Source: Convention/convention_wb.pdf
(Pages 43-45)


Commission on Worship

The current Commission on Worship, comprised of seven members

appointed by the President of the Synod (Bylaw, is

immersed in addressing the worship situation ongoing in the Synod.

As an appointed group, the members represent a microcosm of the

Synod’s varying positions on matters of worship. It is the commission’s

collaborative task to shore up the treasure of the Lutheran

heritage of worship as it is has been advanced, confirmed, and published

in the vast constellation of resources associated with Lutheran

Service Book (Bylaw Furthermore, the commission has been

actively engaged in seeking to understand, network, and care for the

growing number of pastors, musicians, and laity who are skilled in

navigating, harnessing, and unleashing the benefits of multimedia in

worship and are able to integrate Web delivery systems that readily
provide nearly an infinite number of worship repertoire choices

(Bylaw 3.9.7). Out of necessity, the commission has had to embrace

living with the challenge of weighing ecclesiastical authority, personal

preference, and thoughtful appreciation for local contextual practices.

Conversations initiated by the commission have sought to balance

and consider matters of worship that are unequivocally theological,

practical, and missional. Through a labyrinth of networks, the commission

has sought to create a permeating sense of concord throughout

the Synod, so that congregations and church workers may continue

to walk together grounded firmly in a sacramental identity whereby

worshipers humbly receive the divine service of God through the

proclamation of the Gospel and the faithful administration of Baptism

and the Lord’s Supper. Certainly God’s people gathered around Word

and Sacrament are to be continually revitalized by celebrating the

Eucharist feast where faith is bolstered, forgiveness is declared, and

saints of God from every time, place, context, and mission gather to

feast upon the lavish grace of God.

Admittedly, the commission has moved intentionally beyond the

printed bylaw guidelines outlined in the 2007 Handbook. Resolutions

from previous conventions have expressed the need for greater awareness,

development, and appreciations for diverse worship resources,

such as Res. 2-04 of the 2004 convention, which

• affirmed “respect for diversity in worship practices as we build

greater understanding of our theology of worship and foster further

discussion of worship practices that are consistent with that


• encouraged “pastors, musicians, and worship leaders to exercise

this freedom responsibly”; and

• called on the commission “to initiate a process leading toward

the development of diverse worship resources for use in The

Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”

Furthermore, 2007 Res. 2-01 resolved

• that “the Commission on Worship and the Commission on

Theology and Church Relations organize a model theological

conference, including representation of pastors and laity from

each district as well as representation from each of our schools

of higher learning,” in order to fulfill 2004 Res. 2-04;

• that the districts of our Synod be encouraged “to organize similar

conferences to further discussion and understanding”; and

• that “the Commission on Worship, in consultation with the

Council of Presidents and the faculties of our seminaries, universities,

and colleges, prepare studies on this topic for use in

circuits and congregations.”

To fulfill the requirements of the above bylaws and resolutions,

the Commission on Worship has specifically collaborated, consulted,

endorsed, administered, and/or created the following events, endeavors,

publications, and resources.


1. “The Institute on Liturgy, Preaching, and Church Music,” July

22–25, 2008, at Concordia University, Nebraska—a nationwide

gathering of 750 pastors, musicians, and laity who are engaged

in conversation, education, and diverse and practical expressions

of Lutheran worship practices that are grounded in Word and


2. “Word and Sacrament Ministry in This and the Next Generation,”

a “Worship Leaders’ Conference Exploring Worship Diversity in

a Campus Culture,” February 15–17, 2009—a gathering of university/

seminary chaplains and deans called to discuss in an open

and collegial manner contextual worship paradigms at each and

every campus ministry setting of the Synod. 
 3. “A Model Theological Conference—Toward a Theology of

Worship That Is …,” January 11–13, 2010, in St. Louis—a gathering

of district presidents, designated pastors, musicians, and lay

persons from every district that is currently and constructively

engaged in contextual/contemporary and/or traditional/liturgical

worship. A series of well articulated discourses on the confessional,

scriptural, missional, vocational, personal, contextual,

practical, and theological aspects of worship was presented and a

series of wide-ranging worship opportunities was modeled.

4. “A Lutheran Songwriters’ Conference—Singing the Sacraments

of God,” April 22–23, 2010, in St. Louis—a gathering of Lutheran

songwriters, worship leaders, and educators actively engaged in

shaping the musical worship life of the Synod’s congregations.


1. LSB: Guitar Chord Edition—A comprehensive collection of the

hymnody in LSB scored in lead-sheet format for guitarists and

keyboardists, intended for ensemble or individual use in corporate

worship and group and family devotions.

2. Children Making Music DVD—A video presentation endorsing

through testimony and witness the value of engaging children in

the task of making music in the context of Lutheran worship.

3. “Let Us Pray”—An ongoing subscription service providing

weekly prayers for the worship life of our congregations.

4. “Worship Survey” —An expansive survey of worship practices

developed and administered with the assistance and care of personnel

from LCMS Rosters and Statistics. The survey explored

the varieties of worship practices and attitudes across the Synod.

Results of the survey are posted online.

5. “Theses on Worship”—A comprehensive document prepared by

the Council of Presidents that coalesces specific worship principles

clearly delineated in Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

6. Online digital recordings of the comprehensive liturgies drawn

from Lutheran Service Book have been made available so that

pastors and musicians can effectively model and lead corporate


7. “As We Gather”—Lectionary summary statements are released

regularly to coordinate with the historic one-year and the threeyear

lectionary series, helping pastors and parishioners make

connections between the readings, particularly as they relate to

the Church Year.

Para Church Organization Collaboration

1. Center for U.S. Missions Worship Consultant—During the first

year of the past triennium, study groups were formed in collaboration

with the worship consultant connected to the Center for

U.S. Missions to evaluate nearly 200 contemporary worship songs

being used in LCMS congregations. The result was the online

“Song Evaluation Tool,” an expandable resource to inform congregations

of particular strengths or weaknesses of the worship

songs based on a prescribed set of Lutheran constructs as defined

in the resource “Text Music Context—A Resource for Reviewing

Worship Materials.”

2. Transforming Church Network—The commission’s executive

director recruited an advisory group of pastors to assist Rev. Dr.

Terry Tieman in developing an initial module on worship practices

that are distinctly Lutheran and yet sensitive to intentional missional

endeavors. This online publication will be available directly

through Transforming Church Network.

Future Resources

1. Re:sound—The Commission on Worship continues to establish

an online network of diverse pastors, musicians, technicians, and 
worship leaders who actively engage in the creation, administration,

and implementation of worship at the local congregational


2. LSB: Hymnal Companion—This comprehensive edition will

provide essays, vast historic documentation, textual detail, music

discussion, and creative practical suggestions on how to understand

and integrate the rich hymnic resources made available in

Lutheran Service Book.

3. LSB: Liturgy Desk Edition—This resource will explain the background

of each liturgical component in the divine services and

daily offices in Lutheran Service Book, providing careful historic

background as well as rubrics regarding liturgical presiding and

service leadership.

4. LSB: Hymn of the Day Bible Study Series—This resource will

explore the biblical foundation for select hymns in Lutheran

Service Book. The initial goal is to provide online or printed

resources as needed for congregations and/or individuals engaged

in studying hymn texts as they are related to Scripture and integrated

into various worship settings.

5. DVD Contemporary Hymn Accompaniments—A resource that

represents the culmination of research, consultation, and development

of fresh accompaniments and video components for

congregational song. This is an intentional endeavor to begin moderating,

encouraging, and providing a fresh palette of sounds to

support the singing of hymnody in contemporary idioms.

Institutional Connections

1. Seminaries—Personnel from the Commission on Worship have

provided encouragement for and engaged in forum discussions

with the faculties of LCMS seminaries to ascertain assistance in

resolving theological, missional, and practical issues regarding

worship practices in the Synod.

2. Concordia Universities—The Commission on Worship has provided

advice for and engaged in collaborative efforts with several

Synod colleges and universities in support of the development of

responsible certification programs to assist future musicians and

pastors to navigate through the complexities of hymnal and nonhymnal


In response to its mandates, the Commission on Worship is purposely

engaged at a very critical juncture in the Synod’s history. The

commission stands in the middle of an intersection that is filled with

individuals and groups that have singular preferences and passions

related to worship. This ongoing situation may confuse and challenge

our ability to present a clear unwavering Gospel proclamation

of One Mission, One Message, One People. In the meantime, within

the mosaic of worship practices that characterize the national Synod,

the commission continues to encourage faithful yet diverse members,

gifted musicians, and pastoral leaders to worship the Triune God, in

spirit and in truth, as individuals and as congregations of the Synod.

Gregory Wismar, Chairman

David Johnson, Executive Director